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CPR for Rivers - the Need for Regulations to Conserve, Protect, and Restore Environmental Flows in BC

1 December, 2015

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority. Yet when you think back to this summer’s severe drought, or read that we’re headed for another troubling year for sockeye, as spawning salmon returns are far lower than predicted, it becomes clear why West Coast Environmental Law and many allies recently wrote to the government of BC setting out our Expectations for Environmental Flows Regulations  under the BC Water Sustainability Act. Our number one point: the government needs to have an environmental flows regulation. 

Water, water everywhere. At this wet time of year, it may not seem that protecting the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers throughout the province is a top priority.

Is BC’s environmental enforcement plummeting because conservation officers are stuck at their desks?

21 September, 2015

During the summer a news story on Global TV suggested that BC has too few conservation officers to deal with all of the problem wildlife calls. The key report that Global based this story on also helps explain why BC's enforcement of environmental laws been dropping for well over a decade. We review the reductions in the "field staff" within BC's Conservation Officer Service and what it means for BC's environmental laws.

During the summer a news story on Global TV suggested one reason BC was quick to order a conservation officer to kill two bear cubs was because there were too few conservation officers to deal with all of the problem wildlife calls.

An open letter to FactsCan.ca on Navigable Waters and Environmental Protection

9 September, 2015

Dear FactsCan.ca - We write in regard to your recent “fact check” of a 2014 petition by the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) related to the removal of environmental protection from 2.5 million of Canada’s lakes and rivers. The NDP states that “Canada went from 2.5 million protected lakes and rivers, down to just 159 under the Conservatives.” You conclude that this statement is “misleading” (indeed, on Twitter, “VERY misleading.”) We have ourselves made similar statements to the one made in the NDP Petition. Indeed, on 31 August 2015 we tweeted a graphic asserting that “Since 2011, 99% of Canada’s Lakes and Rivers lost their legal protection.” We stand by that statement, even after reviewing your analysis. Here is why we believe that your finding that the NDP’s petition is “misleading” is itself misleading...

To Jacob Schroeder, editor, FactsCan.ca

cc. New Democratic Party Canada

Dear Folks at FactsCan.ca:

Re: Navigable Waters and Environmental Protection

Pricing the priceless: Why BC’s new water prices don’t violate NAFTA

17 July, 2015

We have suggested that BC's new water rates are too low - an assessment shared by the signatories to a SumofUs.org petition signed by 225,000 people. As a result, the BC government has commited to review its water rates. But with former MLA Judy Tyabji suggesting that we warned against higher water rates in a 1999 opinion, we want to clarify that there is room to increase water rates dramatically without running afoul of NAFTA or other trade agreements.

When the BC government unveiled its new water pricing scheme, we wrote that while a major increase, the amounts being charged seemed very low.

A Green Budget for a Prosperous Canada

1 April, 2015

Were you excited to read our take on the supposed visionary green budget proposed by the federal government earlier today? Or did you catch on right away that anything received on April 1st should likely be taken with a grain of salt? It would certainly be a major about-face if the Canadian Government passed a bill restoring our environmental safety net. But there is no reason why it shouldn’t. Join us in urging the federal government to restore strong environmental legal protection for Canadians, democracy and the environment.

Were you excited to read our take on the supposed visionary green budget proposed by the federal government earlier today?

Green Groups Overjoyed by New Budget Bill, Contains Everything We Ever Wanted

1 April, 2015

Media Release: Green groups across Canada celebrate the new federal omnibus budget bill, which makes sweeping improvements to environmental laws in Canada and rectifies all the harm done by the last two omnibus bills, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45.  

[Update - noon, 1 April 2015: April Fools'!  But it shouldn't be a joke to expect strong environmental laws from the Canadian Government.  If you agree, click here to send a message to the Prime Minister.]

Federal government tables greenest budget bill in Canadian history, surprising environmental groups

Public interest legal organizations react to proposed BC Society Act changes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

VANCOUVER – Legal organizations reacted today to the news that the provincial government has removed a problematic provision from its proposed new Society Act. Draft legislation had included a provision that would have made it possible for members of the public to file legal challenges against non-profits when, in the opinion of the individual, the non-profit had acted “to the detriment of the public interest”.

Mini-SLAPP provisions dropped from new BC Societies Act

25 March, 2015

Today Bill 24, a new Societies Act, was introduced in the BC Legislature. We are very happy to be able to confirm that the controversial “Section 99”, which had been proposed in a government discussion paper, has been dropped.  We’re inviting British Columbians to thank Finance Minister de Jong for listening to British Columbians. 

Today Bill 24, a new Societies Act, was introduced in the BC Legislature (government release here). We are very happy to be able to confirm that the controversial “Section 99”, which had been proposed in a government discussion paper, has been dropped.  We’re inviting British Columbians to thank Finance Minister de Jong for listening to British Columbians. 

Does Canada’s Pest Control Product Act protect farm workers?

17 February, 2015

It has been said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.  So when I recently testified the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), I chose to focus my submissions on what we’ve learned from our past work with farm workers about how the PCPA does and does not protect farm workers.  I told the Committee that if the PCPA were appropriately implemented, it would go a long way to protecting farm workers, and the environment.  However, to date, it has not lived up to this potential – with the result that farm workers – as those most exposed to pesticides – continue to be subject to significant health risks.

It has been said that the measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.  So when I recently testified the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about Canada’s Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), I chose to focus my submissions on what we’ve learned from our past work with farm workers about how the PCPA does and does not protect farm workers.  Click on the player to hear my testimony (or download the .mp3 or

Financial Clout v. Right to Speak Out

13 February, 2015

“The right to speak is more precious than gold”. Members of the Wilderness Committee displayed these words proudly on the steps of the Supreme Court of BC as they prepared for a two-week hearing on a defamation claim by Taseko Mines Ltd. It only took one week working as a law student with West Coast Environmental Law to become attuned to one of the most significant issues related to the environmental law field in British Columbia, and to society at large: the conflict between large corporations engaged in resource extraction, and the voice of communities who are affected by or concerned about resource extraction activities.

“The right to speak is more precious than gold”. Members of the Wilderness Committee displayed these words proudly on the steps of the Supreme Court of BC as they prepared for a two-week hearing on a defamation claim by Taseko Mines Ltd.

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